Dressing yourself at this time of year is frustrating. I love layering as much as the next person, but when you have to pull out your calculus textbook from high school to compute what the weather will be on the way to work AND on the way home, factoring in what the thermostat will be set to at work as well as how much walking/standing in the elements you’ll be doing, you know you have a problem.
Adding to all of this mental arithmetic is that if you’re going to work, you most likely need to look relatively polished and put-together. I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with these competing needs. I once gave an important presentation in one of my classes still wearing a beanie, because I’d put it on to walk to class and thus couldn’t expose my hat hair for the rest of the day. There are better ways.
Let’s take a look at how you can pull together something warm and professional that won’t look like you just rolled out of bed.
Add a Blazer
I know I’ve mentioned before that blazers are the easiest way to add some polish and professionalism to your outfit, and I stand by that. I also personally prefer to err on the side of too many layers, because nothing is worse than leaving work and discovering that the temperature has dropped 20 degrees while you were inside, and that cute little jacket you threw on in the morning has approximately the added warmth of a tee shirt.
Speaking of added warmth, I think this outfit would be perfect with a sheer black pair of tights. I know for a fact H&M sells packs of 4 for less than the cost of a latte at Starbucks. While admittedly tights don’t add significant warmth, they do do the important work of concealing the fact you haven’t shaved your legs since September, and for that they are truly heroes.
Dress up a Sweater
No one will ever convince me that sweaters cannot be dressed up enough for work. Obviously I understand there is a time and place for my favorite baggy mens’ sweaters that fit like cable-knit nightshirts. But I probably own more sweaters than years I have been alive, and until someone invents a button-up blouse that I don’t want to change out of the moment I get home, I won’t be changing my ways anytime soon.
My favorite thing to do is wear high-waisted pants and half-tuck my sweater or shirt into the front. I feel like this gives the illusion that my legs are more in proportion with the length of my torso than they are, and also adds casual style to even the most basic outfit. It’s entirely possible that anyone who doesn’t read fashion blogs (ostensibly 90% of the population here) has no earthly clue what I’m doing and thinks I just forgot to tuck in the back of my shirt after using the bathroom, but if they’re also tricked into thinking my legs are longer than they are, I’m okay with it.
Chambray Never Goes Out of Season
This outfit doesn’t look like much, but these Heattech pants/leggings from Uniqlo are genius. They’re thick and have the details of regular pants (pockets, etc), but they also have an elastic waistband which makes them arguably 1,000 times more appealing than regular work pants. I will say that they run a tiny bit small (perhaps because Uniqlo is a Japanese brand and their sizing is different?), so proceed with caution.
Chambray shirts may be the one kind of button-up shirt that I will voluntarily wear on a weekend (aside from flannel, which is a given). I wore a version of this yesterday with a black coatigan (I didn’t come up with this word fyi) instead of a coat because this is DC and the leaves haven’t even fallen off the trees yet, but the effect was essentially the same. If you really wanted to be extra preppy, you could throw a crew-neck sweater over the chambray shirt and let the collar peek out. This is the type of thing I see people around here do all the time, and who knows–maybe they’re on to something.